The Brock Talk

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Heiligbrodt Dispersal Sad News For Texas and National Racing

With the special State legislative session in Texas drawing to a close, it appears there is little hope of slot machines at Texas horse and greyhound tracks in the near future. State lawmakers again have ignored the horse industries that are supposedly such a large part of the Texas culture and have again failed to give Texas citizens the right to voice their stance by vote. State Senator Jane Will, R-Lewisville, and her Bible belt colleagues continue to allow Texas dollars to flood out of the state by the millions as their constituents flock to casinos located just across the Texas border in neighboring states.

Meanwhile, owners and breeders who have invested millions of dollars in Texas racing in recent years in hopes of the opportunity to compete on an even playing field with those racing in other states, are either leaving the Lone Star State in droves or just leaving horse racing all together.

Recently, public thoroughbred auction company Fasig-Tipton announced the dispersal of the racing and breeding operation of Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt of Houston, Texas. The sale not only signifies the loss of a nationally leading stable of significant size with divisions from California to New York, but the exodus of an industry leader nationally and in his home state. Bill served on the both the boards of the Texas Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, the Texas Horsemen’s Partnership, is a former trustee for the Breeders’ Cup and former member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors. Bill and Corinne were honored as the leading earner of accredited Texas-bred money in 2005 from the Texas Thoroughbred Association and in 2003, they were honored with the Western Region Owner of the Year Award from Thoroughbred Owners’ and Breeders’ Association.

The Heiligbrodts entered racing in 1988 and experienced success early when Appealing Breeze finished 10th in the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in their white silks with the burnt orange star front and back. Bill and Corinne will leave a large gap in the thoroughbred industry as their vast operation spans racing, breeding and participating in public sales as a buyers, sellers and pin-hookers, although they may reserve interests in some aspects of the industry. Based at their Palacios Farm in Texas where they stable many of the yearlings and 2-year-olds, the Hieligbrodts also board mares in Kentucky and Texas. They also have interest in stallions standing in Kentucky, Louisiana, Florida and New Mexico.

Steve Asmussen trains for the Heiligbrodts with various divisions nationally in major markets and at home in Texas. They have many times partnered with Mike Mulligan’s Leprechaun Racing and Dennis Narlinger’s JMJ Racing Stable on various thoroughbred ventures. Golden Ballet and Cashier’s Dream were grade 1 winners owned in partnership with the Heiligbrodts while Appealing Zophie and Lady Tak won grade 1 stakes while racing exclusively for the husband and wife team. Lady Tak set the stakes record for the Ballerina Stakes (gr. 1) Test Stakes (gr. 1) in New York. Together the Heiligbrodts owned all or part of more than 118 stakes winners, of which more than 45 were graded stakes winners. They also ranked among the top ten owners nationally every year from 2007 – 2010.

Phase one of the dispersal will be held July 12 at Fasig-Tipton’s Newton Paddocks near Lexington, Kentucky and will include the sale of approximately 80 thoroughbreds of all ages. Horses will be available for inspection July 9. Catalogues are currently available at

According to a Fasig-Tipton press release, the Heiligbrodts are taking “a hiatus from the ownership ranks to devote more time to family and other business interests.” There is optimism for the industry in that they mention only the ownership ranks. A hiatus suggest they may return.

Regardless, the Heiligbrodt dispersal is unpleasant news for thoroughbred racing. This is not to suggest that the Heiligbrodts are leaving the industry based on the lack support for the equine industry by the Texas State Legislators. (Equine breeds and associations outside the racing industry stood to benefit financially from this legislation as well.) But Bill Heiligbrodt is retired from banking and financial services and the business analysis for Texas owners and breeders continues to point in the wrong direction.

It is very plausible after all, that “family and other business interest” were far ahead of legalized slots in Texas when the Heiligbrodts were making their decisions about departing from the ranks of thoroughbred owners. But other owners, breeders and trainers, are looking at that same financial future of Texas racing. And they be soon following the Heiligbodts out of Texas racing.

No comments: